What, How, Why... Hygge
The last two weeks have seen us dusting off our favourite woolies and cranking up the heating as we coast uncontrollably into another dark, sluggish and potentially sub-zero winter. It is at this time of year that we instinctively tilt our heads north eastwards to our friends across the North Sea in Denmark who have perfected the art of contentment in a time where even our English acronyms for dealing with the seasons spell SAD. The word that keeps popping it’s head above the parapet is, of course, Hygge. A seemingly vital ingredient in the illusive recipe for achieving, or rather feeling, happiness.
Heads up: It is pronounced ‘Hoo- ga’ (rhymes with Cougar), not ‘Hi- gee’ (rhymes with Piggy) as us Brits love to call it.
What does it mean?
The direct translation of the Danish word ‘Hygge’ gives the result ‘fun’ which, strictly speaking, is not entirely accurate. Apart from it’s obvious connotations of coziness, if you delve a little deeper the running theme keeps coming back to the four c’s:
Comfort Closeness Contentment Conviviality
In other words: Its all about how you feel.
The founders of hyggehouse.com describe Hygge as ‘A certain slowness’. How perfect. It makes absolute sense.
Apart from, perhaps, the traffic on your way to work, or the dreaded rainbow wheel when you’re trying to stream an episode of Black Mirror on Netflix; nothing moves slowly in 2018. As a society, we make sure of it. We tick to the metronome of life and neglect to adjust our own tempos accordingly. It’s time we took a good, long look at our Danish counterparts and started sharing more of the good stuff: Family, food, stories, laughter and, of course, time.
It would seem that the rest of us are starting to catch on to the value of being a bit more Hygge. Pinterest have seen a year-on-year rise of 285% of Hygge- themed pins and Hygge- related Instagram posts by Brits rocketed this September. Despite the obvious irony of the statistics, it reminds us that we too find value and happiness in the simple pleasures in life. Like falling autumn leaves and a hard-earned mug of hot chocolate after a brisk stroll.
How to: Hygge
Denmark was once again awarded the title of ‘Happiest country in the world’ this year, despite living with 17 hours of darkness during the toughest months of winter. Here are some of the top tips for achieving absolute Hygge; direct from the Danes:
Disconnect. Turn off your wifi and put down your phone. Be present and connect with those around you.
Get tactile. Hug abundantly, slip those super soft socks on, stroke the cat, snuggle a blanket. Live by candlelight. Let the flicker and glow wash warm feelings all over you. Danes buy more candles per person than any other country in the world. All hail the Brew. According to The Guardian, 85% of Danes equate a hot cuppa with the feeling of Hygge, and happiness. Trade in the engine for some wheels. Copenhagen has 350km of cycle paths and lanes. Cycling enables you to connect with your surroundings and be a part of the environment. Good vibes. Help people, ooze positivity, be a shining light. Do good, be good. Hold up, slow down. After all, the best Hyggelig (pertaining to Hygge) things come to those who wait…
Marshmallows roasting over an open fire. Watching curled tea leaves steep and unfurl with an explosion of colour into a pot of hot water. *Lighting a candle. Inhaling. Waiting for the scent of burnt matchstick and fragrant wax to fill your nostrils.
It all takes time.
Soak up this simple, uncomplicated moment. And the next.